Thursday, December 29, 2011

1 Timothy 4:12-16 Pastoral Conduct & Duties

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Vs. 12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

The Apostle Paul anticipating opposition to Timothy's leadership now charges Timothy not to let anyone despise his youth. The word Paul uses here in describing Timothy as a youth is to be distinguished from the word he used in 3:6 to describe new believers as being disqualified from church oversight. Timothy was young in years, and new to the office of Pastor, but he was not new to the faith. Now it is the Holy Spirit who chooses and equips and thus qualifies each believer to fulfill whatever functions in the Body of Christ we are to fulfill. Even before the Holy Spirit’s outpouring, rank or age was never the deciding factor (consider 1 Chron. 24:31; Luke 1:8-9; Acts 1:15-26). Hence if one is Spirit equipped then it is their level of Spiritual maturity that qualifies or disqualifies them for Christ's service, not their age or education level. Therefore Paul exhorts Timothy to let no one despise his youth, rather he is to be an example for all believers to follow:

In word, that is in doctrine, unlike the profane talk and idle speculations of the false teachers, who do not believe the actual spiritual truth's shown them. Timothy should be reverent and faithful in teaching the cross of Christ and the sound doctrine born out of it. And of course as a mature believer in Jesus Christ, Timothy must demonstrate a mature use of his tongue. For how one uses it, whether for instruction, edification, encouragement, exhortation, and when necessary Godly rebuke. Or for foolish talking, gossiping, cutting criticism, or putting down of others, says much about how mature or immature in the faith they really are (Eph. 4:31; James 3:2-10; 1 Peter 2:1).

In conduct, Timothy (like us all) must not only profess well but also live well, setting an example that others can emulate (Eph. 5:1). Now this we do when we follow the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ and live out the fruits of the Spirit in our lives (John 14:21; Gal. 5:22-23). Thus not sinless "perfection", that only leads to hypocrisy; rather sound conduct that is above reproach.

In love, Since the gospel is a message of God’s immeasurable love for all people demonstrated through death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ we must never lose sight of love. Love is the greatest commandment the Lord Jesus Christ has given us as His disciples to obey (John 13:34-35). Therefore just as God is love, so everyone born of Him loves (1 John 4:7-8), for the first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love (Gal. 5:22). Love truly is then a measure of sincere and mature faith (1 Cor. 13).

In spirit, that is ones disposition; thus humility, kindness, soundness of faith etc. is how we are to live out and proclaim the faith. Conducting ourselves as men and women of God, not like those who do know Him. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power; love and sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7

In faith, the gospel is above all else a call to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 6:29) and live out one's faith in Him by grace and truth (John 1:17). The Pastor then is to model what “living by faith” looks like to all (2 Cor. 3:5-6; 17). Now in this the Apostle James also exhorts us that faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26). Therefore living by faith means not only believing the Spiritual truths in God’s Word entrusted to us to keep, but also striving to exemplify them in all aspects of our lives. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” 2 Chron. 16:9

In purity, In the N.T. the word the Apostle Paul uses here appears only here, and in 5:2 of this same epistle. For believers purity is to be of prime importance in our following Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1 John 3:2-3; Rev. 18:2-4). Since the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth (Eph. 5:9). And so more than anything else this is the battlefield where Christian men and women living in a world well under the sway of Satan must stand firm and not be swayed into following or justifying the ever increasing moral decline that is this world (1 Thess. 4:3-4). Therefore it is incumbent upon us who believe, especially if we are in, or are aspiring to leadership, to pursue purity (1 John 5:18). For this in accord with our new nature In Christ and will keep us, and those who heed us, solidly rooted and grounded in the faith and free from the many pitfalls and sorrows that come to all those who sadly live ungodly lives (Psalm 33:10; Prov. 11:31; 12:28; 13:6, 21).
Now in the Spirit’s address in the Book of Revelation’s to the seven churches, two are specifically mentioned as committing or permitting sexual immorality, and thus the Spirit gives a strong rebuke that these are things that must be repented of (Rev. 2:12-17; 2:18-29). Therefore if a church congregation loses this fight and surrenders to the prevailing "morals" of the day; they will not only lose their witness for all that Jesus Christ came for; that is to set mankind free from the bondage of sin and death, but more perilously their place within Christ’s Body as useful vessel's for His service.

Vs. 13 “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”

Having given Timothy a command to pursue Righteousness and Godliness, the Apostle Paul now makes it clear there is but one way to that end, and that is to know and obey God and His will by His Word. For through God’s Word one not only grows in wisdom and knowledge and understanding, but one gains great discernment as well. Three things then every Pastor must focus on. The first is reading. A Pastor who neglects his own Scriptural studies will not be healthy spiritually, nor can he gainfully instruct others if he is neglecting the Word. Having then studied the Scriptures for himself a Pastor must continue on with the public reading or exposition of them. Consider everything Jesus received from God the Father He preached publicly. Therefore Jesus commands the same from us all, which is especially true if in a leadership role (consider Matt. 10:27-31; Mark 8:38). Now in regards to the public reading of the Scriptures the word used here is also used in 1 Thess. 5:27 and Col. 4:16 where the Apostle Paul commands that his epistles be read openly before the church. Three quick reasons for this:
First: the church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:16) and as such has a God given mandate to keep and expound the truth openly and correctly (Eph. 4:14).
Second: reading the Scriptures keeps people focused and grounded in following Jesus Christ; both corporately and individually; correctly. For in abiding in Jesus Christ's Word believers not only grow up into Christ like maturity, but will bear fruit Spiritually (John 15:7). Therefore the Apostle Peter exhorts us all who desire Spiritual growth to look into God's Word for this, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” 1 Peter 2:1
Third: Sanctification. The Lord Jesus not only commands us as His disciples to abide in His Word. He also prayed to the Father on our behalf that we might be sanctified by it, when He prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17 Therefore God's Word is critical for not only a believer's sanctification but also the whole corporate body of believers sanctification.

The second area a Pastor must give attention to is exhortation. That is having read or had the Scriptures read publicly, the Pastor must exhort believer and non believer to obedience to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Thess. 2:16-17). Balanced with this is also encouragement for those who are struggling (Rom. 15:4), and consolation for those who suffer loses (Matt. 5:4). In other words the Pastor must not only be a man who is passionate about God’s Word and its proclamation, but God’s people, and their well being (2 Cor. 1:3-7). Speaking words of both exhortation and comfort; the same word is used of the Holy Spirit comforting the church in Acts 9:31; to build up the church and strengthen God’s people in faith and love (Philemon 7).

The third area that a Pastor must give attention to is doctrine (4:6). A Pastor must know the Scriptures and the sound doctrine born out of them in order to ward of heresy, which will only increase as the end draws near (consider Matt 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:1-11 etc.). Given the Apostle Paul’s warning of some heeding doctrines (same word) of demons at the start of this chapter it is paramount that every Pastor pays careful attention to his doctrine. For if the Pastor does not pay attention to his doctrine, then he will inadvertently lay the groundwork for deceivers and all kinds of deviations from the truth to rise up in his congregation (Acts 20:28-35; 2 Tim. 3:13-14). For there is already a bewildering amount of spiritual error out there and it is almost certain God’s people will stray, or get caught up in that error, if they are left to fend for themselves (consider Mark 6:34). Therefore the bulk of a Pastor’s time should be spent in reading, exhortation, and doctrine. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Tim 4:3-5
Therefore a Pastor must delegate most of the churches business to those Godly men who want to and are qualified to serve Christ in handling the daily affairs of the local church and or parachurch ministries, and instead serve with them primarily in an oversight capacity. Just as the Apostles did in assigning Spirit filled men to the daily distribution of food for widows, so that the Apostle’s could dedicate themselves to the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6:1-6). A Pastor then must always maintain his focus on fulfilling his primary calling; preaching and teaching; and thus delegate those other important duties to those that Christ has provided and equipped for Himself to do those things. Therefore put the Word of God first and everything else will fall into place.

Vs. 14 “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.”

The Apostle Paul now commands Timothy not to neglect the gift that is in him. A gift which came to Him by the Holy Spirit who gives gifts to all of us who believe in Him for the building up of the church in love (Eph. 4:7-16). For as salvation comes as a gift of God’s love for us, so do His Spirit gifts. And these Spirit gifts remain in the hands of Providence to distribute according to His own will. Therefore Paul’s reference here to Timothy receiving a gift "...which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership." may need some clarification. For one must be careful not to misunderstand the Apostle Paul here as saying Spirit gifts come by church elders laying on of their hands on anyone. For only the Holy Spirit gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:8) according to His own will for the building up of the church in love (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Even though the word translated gifts here has extensive Scriptural usage of man giving gifts; there simply is no Scriptural reference to the impartation of Spirit gifts being given by one person to another unless someone interprets this single verse in such a light. Which would then contravene all that the Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor.12 about the Holy Spirit alone giving gifts according to His own Will. Therefore Timothy had a gift that was given him by prophecy, that is the prophecy did not endow him with the gift. It merely affirmed his having it. Therefore the laying on of hands by the elders; including the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 1:6) was confirming Timothy as a man called and equipped by God (See Acts 6:6; 13:3 for N.T. eldership examples). Now to see a direct correlation of this in Scriptures consider Joshua is Scripturally said to be full of wisdom because Moses laid his hands on him (Deut. 34:9). Yet this was according to God having already chosen and gifted Joshua by His Spirit with wisdom (Num. 27:18-23). Therefore the church elders were affirming Timothy’s calling by laying their hands on him. Their laying hands on Timothy did not endow him with a Spirit gift. It simply confirmed him as chosen by God and equipped by the Holy Spirit for the church’s service. Timothy then was to take this to heart knowing that Christ called him; the Holy Spirit gifted him; and the church elders commissioned him to be in the position he was in. Now if a man is not Spirit equipped to serve in the capacity he is in, he can have a thousand Godly men lay their hands on him, he would still be disqualified. Timothy though like the Apostle Paul was not disqualified (2 Cor. 13:5).

Vs. 15 “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

The Apostle Paul having reaffirmed young Timothy’s calling to him now exhorts Timothy to meditate on these things that he has been teaching him. Literally to go over again and again the things which Paul has written here. For being Spirit equipped is one thing, becoming Scripturally knowledgeable, discerning, and mature takes much time, thought and effort. Yet over time ones progress will become evident to all as one abandons themselves to the Scriptures. And by doing so Timothy would also be confirming his calling to those who doubted it. For Spiritual growth always requires that one move from infancy to maturity (Gal. 3:23-25; Heb. 6:1-3; 1 Peter 2:1-3).

Vs. 16 “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

The Apostle Paul’s warning here s relevant for us all. For both our conduct and doctrine are very important (1 Peter 4:17-18) since there is an undeniable link between them both and ones spiritual maturity (2 Cor. 10:3-4; Rom. 12:1-2 etc.). Therefore a Pastor must always take heed to himself and his doctrine. For if his conduct or doctrine is unsound, then so will the lives be who heed him. Finally that a standard body of literature known as the New Testament was not assembled till much later does not annul the fact that the churches universally held one body of teachings as authoritative for all (See Acts 15-16:4-5; 1 Cor. 4:17; 7:19 etc.). Therefore if a Pastor does not adhere to the sound doctrine which is encapsulated for us in the N.T. he will neither save himself nor have a saving effect on those who hear him (Heb. 13:7). The Pastor above all else then must remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ by continuing in both personal obedience to the gospel (Rom. 1:5-6) and the sound doctrine born out of it. Only then will many lives be saved through him by it. 

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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